3 Resume Tips for Your Job Search —Turn Weaknesses into Strengths

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I’ve found that young job hunters who have limited professional experience tend to worry about the attractiveness of their resume and its effect on their prospects. But most of the time, there’s no need for concern.  No candidate perfect (especially this early in their careers), and hiring managers know that. Furthermore, job postings are often aspirational.  That is to say, they represent the perfect candidate and hiring managers know that no one applying is going to be perfect – many of the qualifications listed in their description are not required, but simply preferred.  So don’t worry! The key to catching their attention is to design your resume so your strengths are crisply highlighted and your weaknesses are cleverly downplayed.

Tip #1) Pay attention to the language in the job posting. It’s a good rule of thumb to play up the qualities they highlight.  For instance, if they noted that they want someone who’s had at least 2 years experience with a certain responsibility, be sure to write in all experiences (paid or unpaid) that you’ve had so they add up to two years.  If you fall a bit short, that doesn’t mean (I repeat! that doesn’t mean) you shouldn’t apply! You have no idea what their applicant pool looks like.  It’s entirely possible that others are comparably “flawed” and that the strengths you’ve highlighted throughout rest of your resume completely make up for this one little shortcoming.

Tip #2) Use a clear and consistent format. Earlier this year, theLadders.com released the results of its 10-week study of recruiters’ resume-reading behavior.  Using eye-tracking software on 30 recruiters while they were reading, theLadders was able to conclude that its subjects spent 80% of their time looking at 6 main resume features: Name, Current title/company, Previous title/company, Previous position / start and end dates, Current position / start and end dates and, Education. Formatting your resume to be clear and consistent so that all the main titles and dates are easy to find will put you ahead of the competition in the recruiters eyes. Not only does it show you pay attention to detail but it will get your resume past the first part of the resume screening process.

Tip #3) Keywords, keywords, keywords. The study next mentioned the remaining 20% was spent scanning for relevant keywords—a gift in disguise. Since companies give you the keywords they’re looking for in their job posting, taking the time to include them in your application is an easy way curry favor.  It just requires taking the time to tweak your resume each time to apply for a position to incorporate keywords specific to that position (note:  this is not as time consuming as it seems—if the jobs you’re applying to are similar and/or in the same field, you probably won’t need to change very much from application to application). Check out a previous post on this subject where we discussed in detail how to optimize your resume for search using keywords.

Younger applicants tend to fall into one of two categories: either they’ve worked several, seemingly scattered, short-term jobs, or they’ve had one or two long-term roles.  Neither one is more advantageous than the other, though.  For instance, job seekers with several roles can be selective about which experiences they place on their resume in order to show recruiters that they’ve had an ordered and perseverant work history.  Long-termers have a job history that demonstrates company loyalty and matured experience with their skills.  Remember it’s all how you write it!

By Abena, Wall Street Services Reporter